Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program

I don't know there's a ton of new information for me to add here, but I'm so thankful to A Broader View for bridging the gap to bring volunteer and opportunity together. It was a great blessing to me and I pray I was one to the kids. I really hope for an opportunity to go back

Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program

What do you do: work as an engineer
Where are you from? Birmingham, AL USA1.1
Why did you choose to volunteer in: La Serena
Why Chile? I first began looking at coming to Chile when I learned about the solar eclipse happening in July 2019.
What program: Orphanage in Coquimbo
Why this program: Once I learned about the orphanage program when looking at La Serena, it was really a no brainer. I was hoping to find a good opportunity to be able to serve while also enjoying a new place. Everyone at A Broader View made the decision even easier always being available for questions.

2. What was the most surprising thing you experienced while in the program?

  • Program: Due to the amount of information I got before going down, there were very few surprises. A pleasant surprise was just how kind everyone at the orphanage was to help and excited the kids were to make new friend
  • Host Family: I can't say enough about how awesome Vilma was in helping make our trip memorable. She made sure we had everything we needed to help with the orphanage, made amazing meals, and guided us around the area to explore.
  • Country: Chile is a beautiful country. This was my first trip there and it didn't disappoint. Everyone we met was very kind towards us even with the language barrier. I got a flat tire my first day in Chile and the locals definitely saved the day.
Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program

3. What was the most difficult thing you experienced while in the program?

  • Program: The kids at the orphanage were all pretty well behaved. The leaders there clearly do a great job. You do have to be on your toes anytime you're taking care of children. Often times, I'd need to play referee between kids but it was never too difficult
  • Host family: really nothing. I really wished I could have communicated better in Spanish with Vilma but we certainly worked through it
  • Country: The biggest thing I'd note about the country is that cell service can be very sparse. It was very helpful for us to use Google maps to download offline maps to get around. After that, it's important to know that tolls are the norm in Chile so it's important to plan accordingly.
  • As a side note, the travel visa you get after entering the country looks like a receipt. Hold on to it! :)

4. Tips for future volunteers…

  • Clothing: I packed too much clothing. Traveling light definitely pays dividends. Take warm clothes if you plan to explore. The hills and mountains can get cool and breezy
  • Sightseeing: We checked out Elqui Valley, the beach, and the observatory in Vicuña. Would recommend all those. The stargazing in Chile was the best!
  • Donations: it could be beneficial to contact the orphanage or your volunteer project location to see what specific needs they may have
  • Laundry/internet: because I had so many clothes, I didn't have to do laundry but Vilma did have machines if I needed them. She also had internet, but I would reiterate to not depend on cell service for internet especially outside the cities

5. Other things volunteers should know about:

Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program
  • City/town: driving was not to difficult in La Serena. It only took a day or so to get comfortable traveling around. It's worth getting out and exploring the center city area as well
  • Weather: the weather in July for our trip was beautiful. It got cool on mountains/hills but that's about it. Aside from that, it was generally sunny and dry.
  • Local people: everyone that we encountered was kind and helpful to us. Being American and unable to speak their language back well didn't detour them from helping us. It probably goes without saying doing your best to learn Spanish before starting your project
  • Tours: Our house mom Vilma did a great job pointing this out to us and giving us different ideas on things to do in our free time
Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program

6. Personal paragrap

I don't know there's a ton of new information for me to add here, but I'm so thankful to A Broader View for bridging the gap to bring volunteer and opportunity together. It was a great blessing to me and I pray I was one to the kids. I really hope for an opportunity to go back

7. How would you describe your:

  • Accommodations: Vilma made sure we were completely stop with bedding and meals our entire trip
  • Meals: Vilma is an amazing cook! My favorite was a corn pot pie she made
  • Security: we always felt very safe when we traveled. We used common sense just to not put ourselves in any dangerous spots
  • Host family: amazing (if I haven't said it enough already)!
Volunteer Matthew Rhodes in La Serena Chile at the Orphanage Program

8. What was your memory of this trip:

  • Program: the children stole the show. They were so sweet and fun to be around
  • Host family: I won't ever forget Vilma and how great she is! I'm really hoping to get back to La Serena to get to see her again soon
  • Country: Chile left a great mark on me. I plan to go back soon to try and explore another part of the huge country

9. How was the local ABV coordinator?

Really didn't have to communicate with ABV personal very much once we got in the country

10. How was the information you received from ABV prior to traveling?

Could not have been better! ABV was incredibly informative in preparing me for this trip

11. Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers about your volunteer experience?

Absolutely

 

Language Immersion:
No

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